One of five DHL Stormers players with previous Heineken Champions Cup experience, Deon Fourie is looking forward to taking on London Irish in a historic match at DHL Stadium on Saturday.
The DHL Stormers will welcome Premiership outfit London Irish to Cape Town on Saturday in what will be the first-ever Heineken Champions Cup clash played at DHL Stadium.
“It’s very exciting,” said Fourie. “It was always our goal to play at this level since last year when we joined the URC. There was always the possibility of South African teams joining the Heineken Champions Cup. It was our objective to get into the prestigious competition.
“We already have one game behind us and now we have the first home game of this big tournament. It’s exciting to show the people of Cape Town what this tournament is all about and the quality of players in this tournament.”
Fourie, a DHL Stormers veteran of over 100 caps, is one of five players in the camp with previous experience of Europe’s top-flight club competition. The others include captain Steven Kitshoff, hooker Joseph Dweba, prop Brok Harris and back Alapati Leiua.
“Playing against top sides in Europe, you are facing teams that have got all the experience and quality players that are at the likes of Leinster and Munster, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers,” said Fourie, who played in the tournament with French side Lyon.
“Having experienced players who have played in the competition before will help us a lot.
The DHL Stormers are going into the match on the back of a 24-14 loss away to Clermont at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
Fourie says the DHL Stormers are taking confidence from their first-half performance in challenging conditions in France, which put the visitors 14-3 up at half time.
“The positive is that in the first half we showed that we are up there with the type of teams like Clermont. We did this without Frans Malherbe and a few disruptions before the game with Dan du Plessis having to withdraw from the matchday-23. We learned that we are capable as a team to perform at this level. We just need to perform for 80 minutes, like a quality side such as Clermont did. They quickly changed their game plan at half-time and put us under pressure.
“We just have to learn to adapt against teams that are good enough to change their tactics in a half. There are lots of learnings from this game, but also lots of positives. We are in this competition, and we know that we can compete against the good sides in the Heineken Champions Cup.”